Canadian Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau makes a statement in regards to a photo coming to light of himself from 2001, wearing "brownface," during a scrum on his campaign plane in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Trudeau Attacks Tories for Not Releasing Platform as Leaders Prepare for Debate
By Lee Berthiaume
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took aim at the Conservatives on Sunday for not releasing their election platform as the majority of federal party leaders spent the day cramming for Monday's critical English-language debate.
The debate is in Gatineau, Que., within sight of Parliament Hill. Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were the only two leaders to spend the day on the hustings shaking hands and, in Trudeau's case, attacking the Tories, though neither strayed far.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Green Leader Elizabeth May were either in or en route to the national capital to prepare for Monday night's televised debate, arguably the most important event of the campaign so far.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier are also taking part, the first time all six leaders will square off on the same stage.
Monday's debate is also be the last time any of them will debate each other in English.
Trudeau made a quick bus trip to a conservative-friendly area just outside Belleville, Ont., where he planted trees to highlight his environmental plan, including a promise to plan two billion trees.
He then went on the offensive, attacking Scheer for promising to cancel the Liberals' price on carbon before comparing the Tories' refusal to release their platform to that of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
``I can talk about what's in our platform because we have released our full platform,'' said Trudeau, whose party and the Greens have released cost estimates for most promises and how they intend to pay for them.
``Andrew Scheer is keeping his full platform and it's costing a secret. You know who else did that? Doug Ford. He kept it secret from Canadians and then turned around and cut health care, cut education, cut services for people who need it.''
After promising a fully costed platform, Ford's Progressive Conservatives instead released a list of promises about a week before Ontarians went to the polls in June 2018. The list did not include details on how the PCs would pay for the promises.
Upon taking office, the Ford government _ a constant target for Trudeau _ moved to cut funding for public-health services, new childcare spaces and autism support. It also announced increases to class sizes, among other things.
Scheer has refused to be pinned down on the timing of the Conservative platform release, saying only that it will be unveiled ``with plenty of time for Canadians to make decisions, to go through it.''
Tory spokesman Simon Jefferies said Sunday that the party platform will be fully costed when it's released and that some of the Liberals' signature promises don't have dollar figures attached.
The NDP released their platform in June, several months before the election was even called. However, Singh has not yet released a costing of the platform or a fiscal plan. A party spokesman has said that will come in the next few weeks.
The People's Party of Canada has similarly announced some tax measures, but not year-by-year fiscal estimates.
Even as Trudeau was attacking the Conservatives on Sunday, Singh was enlisting one of his party's most respected elder statesmen, Ed Broadbent, for a tour of an Ottawa farmers' market.
The market is in Ottawa Centre, which Broadbent represented in his short second stint in politics from 2004 to 2006. Liberal Catherine McKenna won it from Broadbent's NDP successor Paul Dewar in 2015 and the New Democrats would like to take it back.
Under grey skies, Singh and Broadbent, who led the federal New Democrats from 1975 to 1989 and remains a force within the party even at age 83, shook hands with marketgoers who were eager for selfies with the two men.
Broadbent praised Singh for his performance during last week's French-language debate. Asked what advice he would give Singh ahead of Monday's English-language debate, Broadbent responded: ``To be himself.''
Singh, who at times seem to be more readily recognized by shoppers than Broadbent, described the former leader as ``a great mentor,'' and that when it comes to the debate: ``I'm going to try my best.''
At one point during his tour, Singh was approached and thanked by one shopper for his response to photos and a video of Trudeau having worn blackface and brownface makeup before the Liberal leader entered politics.
``As a person of colour, I was inspired and grateful for how his response was to Justin Trudeau,'' said Laverne Barretto. ``It spoke to my heart and to my soul and his poise and elegance was profound. ... That really meant a lot to me as a woman of colour in Canada and I really wanted to say thank you.''
Yet Barretto said she would be voting for the Greens because she wants to push for more action on the environment and climate change, and that it was unfortunate the NDP's platform did not go farther.
The NDP leader wasn't the only one getting some advice ahead of Monday's debate. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who was in Ottawa last week campaigning on behalf of Scheer, said the Conservative leader needs to avoid becoming defensive.
Scheer emerged as the main target for the other leaders during last week's TVA French-language debate.
``He'll be under attack because I think he's leading in this campaign,'' Kenney said Friday. ``So my advice to him would be: Don't become too defensive. Get out there, communicate your message. That's what I did and it worked for us.''
In a fundraising letter to supporters, Bernier described Monday's debate and the French-language debate that will be held on Thursday as a potential ``turning point'' in the campaign. Bernier has been betting that a chance to speak to a national audience will give him a critical boost.
``Millions of Canadians will be hearing about the People's Party for the first time,'' said Bernier, who was excluded from the first English-language debate held last month by Maclean's and Citytv as well as the TVA debate.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2019.
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
Scheer, Singh Campaign in Their Parties' Regions of Relative Strength
By Andy Blatchford
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh kept their campaign machines rolling Saturday _ and they focused their efforts on their parties' historic strongholds.
Scheer promoted the Conservatives' pledge to build a national energy corridor during a stop in Edmonton, where he took the stage with an old friend: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Scheer, who also planned to visit Saskatoon on Saturday, urged cheering supporters to help his party win a handful of ridings in Alberta that the party lost in the 2015 election. Four years ago, the Liberals won four seats from the Tories in Calgary and Edmonton.
``I need your help, I need you to go door to door,'' Scheer said after being introduced by Kenney, his former colleague in the Harper government.
``We need to win seats in Alberta, we need to win seats here in Edmonton and Calgary that we didn't win in the last election.''
Kenney told the crowd that Scheer will be a prime minister ``we will never have to be embarrassed about.''
The Conservatives have been trying to sell voters on their pledge to construct a cross-Canada energy corridor to transport oil, gas, hydroelectricity and telecommunications. Scheer insisted it would improve certainty for investors, address environmental and social concerns up front, and deliver economic benefits for all Canadians.
He didn't provide a cost or a timeline for the project, which would likely face tough negotiations with Indigenous peoples and provinces _ especially Quebec.
On the West Coast, Singh campaigned Saturday for a fifth consecutive day in British Columbia, where the NDP won 14 seats in 2015. He's running for re-election in the Vancouver-area riding of Burnaby-South.
Singh made an announcement aboard a ferry en route to Vancouver from Vancouver Island, a critical battleground where the NDP is trying to hold off the Greens.
An NDP government, Singh said, would provide an additional $30 million of federal funding towards British Columbia's ferry system to help provide more services and to lower costs for commuters. Singh has been making promises geared for B.C. in recent days _ in areas such as housing affordability and coastline protection.
``We know that B.C. is also a province that also feels neglected _ being on the West Coast a lot of times people feel like they're ignored and I want to make sure people in B.C. know that I've got their back,'' he said when asked about all the attention he's been paying to the province.
``We're running a national campaign and I'm looking forward to being in every part of Canada. I have the honour of being a national leader and it's my job to represent all of Canada.''
Since the start of the election, the NDP leader has paid considerable attention to B.C. and Ontario. Singh has yet to campaign in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador or Prince Edward Island.
When he visited New Brunswick last Monday it marked his first visit to the province since winning the party's leadership two years ago. He apologized for not getting there sooner.
The NDP is likely trying to keep its spending under control following years of weak fundraising results and high levels debt from the 2015 election.
Second-quarter fundraising results released over the summer by Elections Canada showed that the NDP raised just $1.43 million during those three months _ slightly less than the Greens and well behind the Conservatives and Liberals.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's tour has no scheduled public events Saturday. Green party Leader Elizabeth May was set to campaign on Vancouver Island and People's Party Leader Maxime Bernier was scheduled to attend a fundraiser in his Quebec riding of Beauce.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2019.
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Thursday the political instability in the United States and Britain serves as a warning to Canadian voters to avoid the pull of divisive populism that he accuses his Conservative opponents of fostering.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, raised the SNC-Lavalin drama that has dogged Trudeau in the past by promising a new law to investigate ``sleazy'' politicians to hold his opponent to account.
Trudeau linked the impeachment drama unfolding in the U.S. and the Brexit agony rocking the U.K. to the ``politics of fear'' that he says Scheer is bringing to the current Canadian federal election.
While he did not mention President Donald Trump or Prime Minister Boris Johnson by name, Trudeau continued to link Scheer to other Conservative politicians, such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Trudeau said Scheer is running on the same failed policies of Harper from the 2015 campaign that brought the Liberals to power.
``Some of the consequences of the populist tendencies that we've seen over the past few years in places like the U.K. and the United States are clearly on display for Canadians right now,'' Trudeau said in the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area in Sudbury, Ont. after announcing a series of new environmental conservation measures.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer fired back by promising a Conservative government would launch a judicial inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Scheer made the announcement in Trudeau's Montreal riding of Papineau, saying an inquiry would finally provide Canadians the answers they deserve about the government's involvement in SNC-Lavalin's criminal prosecution.
``It's a cover-up on an historic scale,'' said Scheer.
Scheer said he would introduce legislation that would allow the RCMP to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for access to information protected by cabinet confidence, saying it would prevent politicians from hiding behind the current system of protecting frank and open discussions among ministers.
``The measures I've announced today and others I will announce later in the campaign will safeguard our democracy against the whims of sleazy and unscrupulous politicians.''
Scheer was speaking at Jarry Park in Montreal's east end, and was to accompany Conservative candidates in what have historically been among the safest Liberal ridings in the city: Mount Royal and Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel.
Mount Royal has gone for the Liberals in every election since 1940; it was the seat of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's father Pierre for nearly 20 years.
Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel has elected Liberals since it was created in the 1980s, though its three MPs have been Alfonso Gagliano, a minister brought down in the sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s; Massimo Pacetti, whom Justin Trudeau expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2014 over allegations he'd harassed another MP; and Nicola Di Iorio, who stopped showing up in the House of Commons before eventually resigning last winter.
Still, Conservatives have never come close to winning there.
Green Leader Elizabeth May is also in Montreal on Thursday, as the third week of the federal election campaign begins.
May is to speak in the afternoon about the role she sees Quebec playing in the Greens' vision of a Canada powered by renewable energy.
Trudeau continued a string of environment-related announcements _ promising to protect one-fourth of Canada's lands and oceans by 2025, along with measures to help low-income families go camping in a national or provincial park _ before whistle-stopping his way southeast to a rally in Peterborough, where cabinet minister Maryam Monsef is fighting to keep her seat.
The NDP's Jagmeet Singh is spending a third day in a row in British Columbia, talking mainly about housing in events on Vancouver Island. He's playing defence: Vancouver Island is where the Greens see their best chances of picking up seats, after a byelection win over the New Democrats in Nanaimo-Ladysmith last May.
Singh is starting in Campbell River and plans to roadtrip south to Nanaimo.
And Maxime Bernier of the People's Party continues his own trip to the West, spreading his populist message in Calgary after spending Wednesday in Vancouver.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2019.
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
Heat Rises as Trudeau, Scheer Exchange Fire in Climate Fight on Campaign Trail
By Mike Blanchfield
Long-simmering political differences over climate change boiled over into a series of personal attacks between the Liberal and Conservative leaders on the campaign trail Tuesday.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau characterized his Conservative opponent Andrew Scheer as a do-nothing denier of climate change, lumping him in with other political opponents such as Jason Kenney and Doug Ford, the Alberta and Ontario premiers.
Scheer branded Trudeau an irresponsible steward of the public purse who was doling out vague and desperate environmental promises that would ruin Canada's economy.
The attacks came as the Liberals unveiled two key planks in their environment platform: a commitment to combat climate change by achieving zero net carbon emissions in Canada by 2050 and halving the income-tax rate for companies that produce zero-emission technologies.
The pledge would bring Canada in line with a promise made by 65 other countries at this week's United Nations Climate Summit to work to become carbon-neutral by mid-century. Trudeau hitched his wagon to teenaged climate activist Greta Thunberg who has pointedly scolded world leaders this week at the UN for their inaction on climate change.
``These kids are scared because they know this will become their mess to clean up,'' Trudeau said in Burnaby, B.C., at a company working on cutting-edge battery technology for uses such as electric vehicles.
``Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer _ this generation of Conservative politicians are all the same when it comes to the environment. They just don't care and they just don't get it.''
Scheer dismissed the Liberal climate plan, calling Trudeau ``a master of improvisation'' who is making policy up on the fly. And he reiterated his past criticism of the Liberals' carbon tax, saying it makes life more expensive for Canadians.
Scheer was non-committal about whether a Conservative government would consider adopting the zero-carbon target itself.
``We are committed to the targets that we have signed onto. We have committed to implementing our real plan for the environment, which gives Canada the best chance to reach those targets,'' Scheer said at an event in southwestern Ontario prior to Trudeau's appearance in B.C.
After Trudeau spoke, the Conservatives released a statement that hit back hard at Trudeau, saying his ``desperate'' plan would cost billions of dollars, jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs, raise taxes by $3,000 per family and increase gas by 73 cents a litre.
``He will destroy the economies of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, while also destroying the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec,'' the Conservative statement said.
The Liberals planned to release three new television ads on Tuesday that place climate change front and centre. The ads extol the Liberal measures on the environment, such as moving toward a ban on harmful single-use plastics, protecting marine areas, committing to a phase-out of coal power in favour of renewable energy sources and ``putting a price on pollution that causes climate change'' _ Trudeau's frame for the carbon tax that Conservatives bitterly oppose.
And the paid messages also attack Scheer directly, saying he ``doesn't think it's possible to grow the economy and fight climate change.''
In Winnipeg, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau's environment policies have failed Canadians, which is why young people are taking to the streets to express their concerns about the fight against climate change.
``No one believes that Mr. Trudeau is going to actually follow through on those commitments,'' Singh said, as he shared his own plan for dealing with climate change, which includes building an east-west corridor to carry clean energy across the country. Manitoba and Quebec have access to huge sources of hydroelectric power, for instance, but tenuous links to potential consumers in places such as Ontario and Alberta.
After Trudeau's appearance in Burnaby, the New Democrats released what they called a ``reality check'' on the Liberal climate plan. It consisted of four words: ``You. Bought. A. Pipeline.''
The Liberal government's purchase last year of the Trans Mountain pipeline has heightened B.C.'s Lower Mainland status as a major political battleground. The pipeline _ if completed _ would triple the flow of oil from Alberta to a sea terminal in Burnaby.
After his climate change announcement in Winnipeg, Singh headed west to his Burnaby South riding, hours after Trudeau staged his climate announcement there, for his own town hall at the end of the day.
Scheer was focusing on battleground Ontario, making stops in southwestern Cambridge, Kitchener and London, alongside Conservative candidates who are all trying to take ridings back from Liberals who won in previously held Tory areas.
Over in Atlantic Canada, Green Leader Elizabeth May was in Sackville, N.B., where she was also highlighting promises from her platform to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. That included new approaches by Canada Post to use its infrastructure to serve communities. Post offices would host electric-vehicle charging stations, for instance, and mail-carriers could be asked to check in on vulnerable residents along their routes.
The Green plan also includes developing a national transportation strategy, with a zero-carbon goal for public ground transportation in Canada by 2040.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2019.
The Canadian Press & the Associated Press. All rights are reserved.
Trudeau, Scheer Hope Golden Horseshoe Proves Lucky
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal rival Justin Trudeau are each hoping to discover a bountiful crop of support as they focus today's federal campaign efforts on the densely populated suburbs north of Toronto and the rest of the so-called Golden Horseshoe.
For Trudeau, it's his second straight day courting suburban family voters; he spent Sunday in Brampton, Ont., promising the picket-fence crowd a big-ticket tax cut worth billions and a 25 per cent reduction in their cellphone bills.
Given the task ahead for Trudeau, who is in Hamilton today, it's hardly surprising that he's bringing out the expensive china: the questions about last week's shocking blackface controversy may have abated, but they have not disappeared, and this week a clearer picture of the extent of the damage is sure to emerge.
Scheer, meanwhile, arrives in the suburban community of Vaughan, Ont., after a visit to Prince Edward Island, where he made a commitment of a different kind: a pledge to veterans to personally oversee efforts to reset the Conservative party's relationship with Canada's ex-soldiers.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Leader Elizabeth May take their undercard battle to Atlantic Canada, where Singh is introducing a new ``star candidate'' in Bathurst, N.B., before moving on to Halifax; May makes an announcement in Fredericton.
Scheer not only promised to correct a host of the reasons why veterans in Canada are mad at both the Liberals and the Conservatives _ clear the benefits backlog, overhaul their hated pension plan, improve transition supports _ but he also promised to oversee the efforts himself and enshrine respect for veterans in legislation.
``As prime minister, I will take a personal interest in ensuring the commitments we made today are followed through on,'' Scheer said.
On Sunday, Singh continued to make public concern about climate change and natural disasters a priority.
During a stop in Gatineau, Que., Singh pledged to add $2.5 billion to the federal government's disaster mitigation fund. The idea, he said, is to help people _ like those in west Quebec who recently faced severe flooding _ avoid disasters and be able to stay in their current homes.
``We can't just close our eyes'' to the prospect of more weather-related disasters, he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2019.
_ With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone and Morgan Lowrie